Extension granted in Hunt Motion to Dismiss FAC

July 13, 2017

Mark Hunt lawyers received an extension in filing their opposition brief to the UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

The original deadline to file an Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint was this past Monday, July 10th.

Stipulation to Extend Time to Respond to Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

According to the Stipulation agreed to by the parties and signed off by the Court, lead counsel for Hunt is going on a pre-planned vacation and another had just come back from a vacation and will be in deposition which will not allow them an opportunity to “prepare a meaningful and adequate response.”

If you haven’t checked it out, I took a look at the first hearing.

Payout Perspective:

The parties agreed to the one-week extension and the Court signed off on it.  While one might think that a vacation is not a valid excuse, Hunt’s attorneys previously stipulated to an extension.  Courts like for the parties to settle these things without judicial intervention.  Also, it is “civil” litigation.  It is frowned upon when there are known dates such as pre-planned vacations and/or holidays and parties file motions with the intent that it annoys the opposing so as to work during these times.  While its understood that deadlines are not always extended, the parties were able to work this one out.

Taking a look at the Motion to Dismiss hearing in the Mark Hunt lawsuit

July 12, 2017

It’s not often that you get the transcript from a court hearing for free (relatively speaking).  But Brock Lesnar’s attorneys have attached the entire hearing from the parties’ Motion to Dismiss on May 22, 2017 as an exhibit to its current Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint of Mark Hunt.  MMA Payout takes a deep dive into the hearing.

Transcript Exhibt a to Lesnar’s MTD by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

There were three parties present.  Howard Jacobs, representing Brock Lesnar, J. Colby Williams and Donald Jude Campbell on behalf of Zuffa, LLC and Dana White and Scott Ingold and Joseph Gonnella on behalf of Mark Hunt.  Jacobs, Williams and Ingold were the attorneys that argued the motion before the Honorable Jennifer A. Dorsey.

The Court complimented the parties on how well-briefed the parties were in arguing the Motion to Dismiss.  As such, he made the introductory note that he had read all of the cases cited by both parties and thus did not need a rehash of the cases.  In my experience, this is helpful and shows the court’s competence.  Also for judicial efficiency, he does not want a party to go too deep into the cases they cite by bringing up the underlying facts in that case unless its central to the point of the parties.

I will let everyone know, first of all, I have read every word of all of the very nicely prepared briefs. I want to thank all of you for the care and attention that went into those briefs. And, because I think everything was so well briefed, I definitely don’t need a reiteration of every argument and every point raised. I’ve spent a lot of time with these motions. I’ve read all of the cases that are cited in them. So I’m prepared to hear what else or what else you would like to stress.

The Court takes time asking questions of Hunt’s attorney about their tort-based claims as well as their theory for the RICO claim.  Defendants seem to have successfully pegged the RICO claim as one that circumvents the rationale behind the purpose of the claim and more of one where attorneys attempt to frame a RICO claim in order to triple their damage claim.  As such, there’s no standing for Hunt to assert his RICO claim.

Colby Williams:

Here, Mr. Hunt’s Complaint is a prime example of the overenthusiastic use of RICO and its specter of criminal wrongdoing to seek a financial windfall in the context of a routine commercial dispute. And, while RICO has unquestionably been stretched in scope and meaning beyond the organized crime context, certain guiding principles remain no matter what the subject matter is of the case.

The most fundamental of those requirements, Your Honor, we would submit, would be that a plaintiff has to have RICO standing under 18 U.S.C. 1964(c) and that’s a two-pronged inquiry. First prong, you’ve got to demonstrate a cognizable injury to a property or business interest. And, Your Honor, most respectfully to opposing counsel, that is not determined by trying to squeeze yourself into some other interest that has been found suitable for RICO injury in a prior case. The courts are unanimous when they tell us business and property interests are a categorical inquiry based on state law. The second inquiry that must be established for RICO standing is that there has to be proximate cause between the injurious conduct and the claimed injury. These are questions of law for the court; they are proper for determination at the 12(b)(6) stage; and, if a plaintiff fails to satisfy either prong, the RICO claim must be dismissed. We submit Mr. Hunt doesn’t satisfy either one.

Defendant’s stress the fact that personal injury and reputational harm are “simply not recoverable” under RICO.  Hunt’s alleged lost opportunities, according to the defendants, are future claims that are speculative and contingent which do not fall under a remedy under RICO.

Notably, the defendants wanted to make known that Hunt was still gamely contracted by the UFC and performing under the contract at issue.

Williams:

Mr. Hunt, on March 4th, fought Alistair Overeem. He references it in his opposition. He was paid $750,000 for that fight, Your Honor. More money than he made in the summer of 2016 at UFC 200 when he fought Mr. Lesnar. He hasn’t lost a single opportunity. He’s continuing to get fight opportunities. He’s making more money. There is no RICO injury here at all.

Jacobs, the attorney for Brock Lesnar, argued that the claims against Lesnar are baseless as they lack proximity.  The RICO claims, which are based on Hunt fighting Bigfoot Silva and Frank Mir do not apply to Lesnar argued Jacobs.  He claimed that Hunt cannot show that he relied on any omissions or misrepresentations from Lesnar which is a requisite for a fraud claim and the underlying actions for a RICO violation.  Jacobs argues the use of the ESPN interviews with Brock Lesnar and Dana White would defeat his own claim.

…I think, all of the causes of action. Certainly RICO, fraud, false pretenses — all of those claims require an allegation of reliance on the false representations. And so the plaintiff in his Complaint and then as supplemented by his opposition says that he relied on either Brock Lesnar’s alleged misrepresentation that he wasn’t doping or he relied on the material omission of the fact that he was doping. So those are the allegations. And there have to be damages pled which he has to show that he relied on these misrepresentations or omissions.

 … And what he [Hunt]wants to do here is have it both ways. He wants to use the interviews that Mr. Lesnar gave as part of his RICO claims and the predicate acts, but then he wants you to somehow find that his own statements, the very same types of interviews, where he said: I know that Brock Lesnar was doping and I don’t care. I’ll beat him anyway. He wants you to ignore those and you can’t because they show that the allegations here are false.

“He wants to use the interviews that Mr. Lesnar gave as part of his RICO claims and the predicate acts, but then he wants you to somehow find that his own statements, the very same types of interveies, where he [Hunt] said: I know that Brock Lesnar was doing and I don’t care.  I’ll beat him anyway.  He wants you [the Judge] to ignore those and you can’t because they show that the allegations here are false.”

Jacobs also attempts to extinguish Hunt’s purported theories for a RICO claim:

And the pattern of racketeering, it’s been alleged that it’s both an open-ended pattern and a closed-ended pattern. And I just wanted to address some of the statements that are made on both of them. On the closed-ended continuity, the claim seems to be that — at least in part because you have to go further back in time — that the prior retirements of Brock Lesnar somehow factor into this closed-ended continuity. There’s a couple problems with that. One, it has not been pled in the Complaint. Two, any allegation that Brock Lesnar’s prior retirements that predated 2015 is somehow being a pattern of activity because they were used to avoid drug testing under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, they have one significant problem and that is there was no UFC Anti-Doping Policy before 2015 and there’s also no allegation that Mark Hunt ever was in line to fight Brock Lesnar prior to 2015. So it’s — those allegations to establish closed-ended continuity simply are factually impossible in this case.

 As to open-ended continuity, it seems to be thatlooking forward, well, Brock Lesnar could unretire and again avoid testing at any time. Again, if you look at the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, specifically at Article 5.7 which we asked that judicial notice be taken of, it specifically says that if he unretires he — basically he has to serve his suspension from that point going forward. So, if he has 11 months left on his suspension, he has to be in the pool for 11 months if he unretires for testing. So this notion and these arguments that he could somehow step out of retirement and straight into the ring is also factually impossible.

Hunt’s attorney first brings up the fact that it is the burden of the moving party thus setting the landscape for his argument that despite possible omissions, the non-moving party (Hunt) would have deference for any vague or ambiguous facts.  He stresses based upon case law that Hunt need only set forth “plausible” facts for their claims.  Further, he need not provide specifics on damages.

He notes that the RICO claim is based on “an ongoing course and conduct by the enterprise and the parties that make the enterprise,” including Brock Lesnar.  He notes that reliance on fraud need not be alleged to make his RICO claim.

He addresses the Defendants’ issues with Hunt’s standing (re question of damages) and proximate cause.  He notes that Lesnar was allowed by the UFC through a “fraudulent agreement by the enterprise.”  He goes on to state that Defendants “defrauded Mr. Hunt when they did that.  They defrauded the Pay-Per-View subscribers. They defrauded many people who were paying or relying on the fact that Mark Hunt was going to get fight a fair fight.”

But the Court asked whether the allegations were “patently speculative” including whether Hunt would have beaten Brock Lesnar if he had fought clean.  The Judge also questions how a fighter that uses PEDs would be able to increase the value of the company based on Hunt’s allegations in the Complaint.  In fact, the Court seems to question the theory of case and alleged damages posed by Hunt.  The attorney for Hunt does not go into the problems only that it needs discovery to determine more detailed matters.

Yet, he seems to have a hard time with the questioning and focusing on the rationale of the RICO claim.

THE COURT: How is it — how can you — I guess the question may be ultimately is what facts have you alleged currently to demonstrate and how — as opposed to just conclusory allegations that these damages, these lost opportunities, are from the RICO activity and the racketeering activity and not merely from the fact that he got beat?

INGOLD: Well, Your Honor, the defendants seem to say, well, we would have to prove that but for the cheating by Mr. Lesnar, Mark Hunt would have won the fight.

THE COURT: But for the racketeering activity

INGOLD: Well, if — if the defendants had not, in our view, committed wire fraud; if they had said, we’re going to make Mr. Lesnar go through the same testing protocols; we’re going to hold him to the same standards as every other fighter, as Mr. Hunt in fact, then it would have likely turned up that Mr. Lesnar was cheating; he would have not been able to compete; they would have substituted another fighter. Even if Mr. Hunt would have fared better against a clean Lesnar, that would have helped his brand.

 THE COURT: How is all of what you’ve just described not patently speculative?

 INGOLD: Well, Your Honor, Mendoza says that we’re allowed to allege damages generally at the pleading stage.

Ingold goes on to analogize the issue of damages:

Your Honor, I would submit that if Michael Jordan never won a basketball game kids wouldn’t be buying Air Jordan sneakers from Nike for hundreds of dollars; that if Mike Tyson never won a boxing fight, people wouldn’t have paid hundreds of dollars in Pay-Per-View fees to see him fight.

The fact of the matter — and we put this in our brief — is that losing fights is bad for business.

The Court also questions why his claims for false pretenses is based upon a criminal standard rather than a civil one.  The Judge read it more like a fraud-in-the inducement claim and Hunt’s attorney could not really address why the False Pretenses claim was based on a Nevada criminal statute.  The Judge also questioned Mr. Ingold as to whether they were challenging the enforceability of the contract.  It was clear that Mr. Ingold did not want to argue that the contract was unenforceable or voidable.

The Court noted that if there was not a false pretense, it would impact his claim for unjust enrichment and other claims made by Hunt.  Basically, under Nevada law, could not claim damages covered by a contract and then have an unjust enrichment claim against the contracting party.  Mr. Ingold cited a case in which there could be more damages claimed outside the contract under unjust enrichment.

It was curious to note that Hunt is not alleging that his fight contract is unenforceable despite the fact that he claims that portions of the contract were breached.

Notably, the Campbell & Williams attorney, Colby Williams, started by quoting a case in which it attempts to frame its argument that RICO does not apply in this case.

“…Mr. Hunt’s Complaint is a prime example of the overenthusiastic use of RICO and its specter of criminal wrongdoing to seek a financial windfall in the context of a routine commercial dispute.”  Williams goes on to state that Hunt has failed to satisfy the two-prong test set out to claim that they can sue (“standing”) under the federal RICO statute.  First, you have to “demonstrate a cognizable injury to a property or business interest.  Second, the UFC brings up a fact that had not been brought up which actually helps their case here.  Jon Jones failed a USADA test and was not allowed to fight at UFC 200.  This factual distinction serves as circumstantial evidence that the UFC would not have allowed Lesnar to participate at UFC 200 if it had known that he was taking a banned substance, he would not have allowed him to fight at the event.  Thus, the plausibility of a conspiracy claim falls flat here.”

The Judge does side with Mr. Williams here in citing that the claim was “overenthusiastic” use of the civil statute.  He dismissed the cause of action with the right to amend which Hunt did.  However, the Court did warn that the threshold for a plausible civil RICO claim was high.  Whether or not Hunt met this hurdle will be determined in the upcoming Motion to Dismiss of the First Amended Complaint.

The primary problem found by the Judge was “the lack of demonstrated RICO standing.”  The Court did not buy a “specialized business personal injury” as asserted by Hunt regarding his loss opportunities and damage to his Juggernaut brand.  Personal injuries are not recognized under this statute.   He also could not infer proximate cause.  Essentially, the Judge could not determine that the claim that the UFC concealed exemptions “to cause clean fighters to fight doping fighters” caused Hunt’s injury.

Once again, I am curious as to why Hunt’s attorney did not include USADA in its Complaint for damages.  Certainly, there could be a level of liability on USADA, a third party (and nonparty in this lawsuit) that administers and enforces the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  With the claims that Lesnar was allowed clearance to fight without proper drug testing, USADA could have been an entity to point the fighter.  Secondly, based on the argument and Hunt’s briefing, Juggernaut brand could have its own claims here.  As pointed out by Defendants, the company owned by Hunt should bring its own claim if it had one.

We shall see how Hunt’s attorneys respond and what they will argue to the Judge has changed (specifically the RICO claim) from the original complaint to the First Amended Complaint.

Povetkin-WOB bring up new information in Wilder Meldonium case

July 5, 2017

The attorneys in the Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin/World of Boxing case are at it again with letters to the court sent late last month.  The parties await a pending Motion for New Trial and/or Motion for JNOV but the attorneys for Povetking and WOB are lobbying the Court to consider newfound information.

As you may recall, at trial in February, a jury took little time in siding with Wilder.  The jury decided that Povetkin had ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016, the sole issue at trial, and Wilder won as a result.  Povetkin filed a Motion for New Trial, or in the alternative, Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.

In a letter to the Court dated, June 21, 2017, the attorneys for Povetkin and WOB note that a WADA Technical Document dated May 17, 2017 stated that WADA advised that “urinary concentrations of Meldonium below 100 ng/mL “should not be reported” “as an Adverse Analytical Finding.”  The attorneys argue that this was in direct contrast to the opinion of Wilder’s expert which noted that he follows the WADA technical documents.

Povetkin WOB letter to Court 06.21.17 by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

They also note that the WADA laboratory that examined Povetkin’s specimen has had its accreditation partial suspended.  The suspension was announced via WADA press release on June 20, 2017 and Povetkin and WOB argue that this “goes to the heart of this litigation.”  The argument is that the reliance on the accreditation by Wilder’s attorneys and his expert place the verdict into question since these issues have arisen after the verdict.

In response, Wilder’s attorney states that the two issues raised are irrelevant and are a ploy for another “bite at the apple.”  Wilder’s attorney notes that the WADA technical document does not go into effect until September 1, 2017.  Thus, the document does not go into effect until a year and a half after Povetkin’s positive test for Meldonium took place on April 27, 2016.

They also bring back the original question that was posed before the jury at trial earlier this year: “Did Alexander Povetkin ingest meldonium after January 1, 2016?”  This negates the argument of whether or not Povetkin would have tested positive for Meldonium under WADA guidelines.

WOB Letter 06.30.17 by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

With respect to the allegations that the UCLA Lab has had its accreditation partially suspended by WADA, Wilder’s attorney argues that the partial suspension does not mean that it cannot continue its regular anti-doping activities and is only for three months.  It stresses that the notice does not even apply to UCLA’s testing for Meldonium, which is central to the issue at trial.  It suggests that this fact would have likely been excluded at trial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403(b) due to the fact that its “probative value” is outweighed by its prejudicial effect.  It also suggests that this new information allows Povetkin/WOB to engage in wild speculation about the case based on assumptions.  For instance, it argues that Povetkin and WOB claim that Wilder’s expert at trial knew about the “impending suspension” which would imply that he was lying under oath.

Payout Perspective:

It has been several months since the attorneys for Povetkin and the World of Boxing have filed its motion for a new trial or trial notwithstanding the verdict without a ruling from the Court.  The latest wrangling are valid if you represent the defendants but the threshold for a motion for new trial would bet that there were significant legal errors.  The issues brought up by Povetkin and WOB seem to be more factual in nature.  Regardless, the bar to have such a motion granted (new trial or overturning a judgment) is high and somewhat difficult because you are asking the Court to overturn its own decision.  Rather, these arguments seem more appropriate for an appeal.  Moreover, the Court does not really have a time limit to decide on this motion whereas an appeal would have had more stringent guidelines.

MMA Payout will keep you posted.

Plaintiffs in UFC Antitrust lawsuit file Emergency Motion to Compel

July 1, 2017

On Friday, Plaintiffs in the Zuffa Antitrust lawsuit filed an Emergency Motion to Compel citing the UFC’s withholding of 30,000 documents due to alleged privilege.  The Plaintiffs are requesting an expediting hearing on the matter for July 13, 2017 due to the pending fact discovery deadline of July 31, 2017.

The motion states that the UFC has withheld documents citing privilege which Plaintiffs deem are too broad.  The parties have “met and conferred,” a requisite process in which the opposing sides are to make a good faith effort to resolve their discovery disputes.  However, as likely predicted, the parties are at an impasse.

Central to the dispute is the fact that the privilege log of withheld documents provide vague descriptions from which Plaintiffs cannot assess whether it is truly a privileged document or not.  Plaintiffs contend that the privilege log is not per the rules of discovery.

The Plaintiffs are requesting that the UFC produced non-privileged documents within 5 court (business) days and a revised privilege log.

Payout Perspective:
Privilege logs are a list of documents that parties provide to the other side to let them know that they are withholding the information but there is a valid reason (i.e. attorney-client privilege).  Usually the key in determining if a document is privileged if its from an attorney to a client and it contains or provides legal advice.  The interpretation of this meaning is used narrowly by parties seeking documents and broadly by those seeking to protect the disclosure.  You can predict that the UFC will oppose this motion and will be upset due to the shorter time to respond.  MMA Payout will keep you posted.

UFC, White and Lesnar seek dismissal of Hunt’s First Amended Complaint

June 28, 2017

The UFC, Dana White and Brock Lesnar have filed a Motion to Dismiss to Mark Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.  According to Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss, all but one of Hunt’s original causes of action in his Complaint were dismissed with the Court allowing Hunt leave to amend.  The Defendants (collectively the UFC, White and Lesnar) have filed a Motion to Dismiss Hunt’s amended lawsuit.

Both motions liberally cite the transcript of the May 22nd hearing on their original Motion to Dismiss.

Zuffa Mtd Fac by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Bolstered by these comments Defendants continue to pick at Hunt’s RICO claim in the FAC which included more details about Hunt’s purported injuries:

Hunt has conjured up a veritable smorgasbord of alleged injuries in the hopes that one might qualify as the requisite concrete financial loss necessary to state a RICO claim. None do.

The argument is the old claim that a plaintiffs’ allegations do not match up with their claimed damages.  Here, Hunt’s claims that he lost out on sponsorship and appearance deals as well as lost profits from his own clothing brand are speculative at best and cannot be claimed here under a theory from his RICO allegations nor his tort-based (physical injury) causes of action.

Moreover, Zuffa claims that Hunt cannot show a logical correlation between what has happened in his case and the UFC. Zuffa states that Hunt cannot show the requisite proximate clause to state his RICO claim.

Zuffa cite a case which outlines the reason:

This means there must be “some direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged. A link that is too remote, purely contingent, or indirect is insufficient.”

Defendants claim that Hunt’s claimed damages are too attenuated to be claimed to be a loss related to a civil RICO claim.

Finally, they also claim that Hunt cannot prove the underlying predicate offenses required of a civil RICO violation.

Lesnar’s Mtd Fac by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Lesnar’s Motion meticulously goes through each claim of Hunt but in more detail as it pertains to the current WWE performer.  Notably, Lesnar’s motion argues that Hunt had signed on to the bout with Lesnar and assumed the risk in signing on to fight Lesnar and therefore cannot argue damages as a result from his UFC 200 fight.

At the Court hearing, Howard Jacobs, Lesnar’s lawyer, stressed the fact that Hunt cannot prove damages for a civil RICO claim.  The distinguishing factor is that Hunt claims business and reputational damages.  These are not recognized damages under RICO claims the Defendants.  Moreover, Jacobs states that Hunt’s claim is a “prime example of overenthusiastic use of RICO…”

Reading throught the Court transcript, Hunt’s lawyer flails at the Court’s questioning of their RICO claims as well as whether or not Hunt was claiming that the bout agreement Hunt signed was invalid.  Hunt’s lawyer didn’t seem to know or did not want to admit that it was some type of strategy.

Payout Perspective:

The first three pages of Lesnar’s motion are instructive in a step-by-step analysis of the differences between Hunt’s original complaint and his First Amended Complaint.  While there are more facts provided in Hunt’s First Amended Complaint, the Defendants argue that the information provided by Plaintiffs do not help his claims.

Lesnar’s Motion to Dismiss attached the Court transcript from the May 22nd as an exhibit.  The Court complemented the parties on their briefing and due to time restraints allowed 10 minutes for each party to argue before the Court.  The Court grilled Hunt for about 15 minutes during the hearing about their Complaint.  To be honest, this could be bad news for Hunt.  Then again, it might be dependent on how the Court looks at the First Amended Complaint and this new Motion to Dismiss.

MMA Payout will have more on this.  Stay tuned.

Payout Exclusive: Interview with Roy Englebrecht and Alliance MMA’s Robert Haydak

June 28, 2017

Alliance MMA continues its expansion of regional promotions.  This month, it announced the acquisition of Roy Englebrecht’s Southern California fight promotion.  MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with Alliance MMA’s President Robert Haydak and Roy Englebrecht.

The acquisition is the largest promotion the publicly traded company has made thus far.  The New York Business Journal reported that the transaction was for the acquisition of the assets of Roy Englebrecht Promotions in a cash and stock deal.  It is the 11th promotion it has acquired in its bid for strategic expansion.  One of the company’s overall goals is to become a feeder league for bigger promotions such as the UFC and Bellator.  It has acquired other ancillary companies such as fighter management company Suckerpunch and ticket company Cage Tix.  Alliance MMA provides infrastructure support to the regional companies while allowing the existing promoters to continue to run the promotion.

“31 years as an independent promoter is enough,” stated Englebrecht of the change.  He will stay on serving in the same capacity for the promotion.  To date, it has 18 fight dates set for this year including boxing/MMA hybrid shows at Fight Club OC at the Hangar in Orange County, California.  He also has two new events, “Rumble on the Water,” at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California and Gladiator MMA which will be held in the LA Coliseum.

Englebrecht will continue to serve as the promotion’s GM and his staff will remain.  This is similar to other acquisitions made by Alliance MMA where they allow the staff to remain in place for a certain amount of time and will make a future decision on the company staffing.

He noted that he is willing to ween off of the MMA/boxing hybrid shows which have been very popular but that decision will be based on Alliance MMA.  Haydak stated that it was his first experience with a hybrid show and was impressed with the event Roy had created.  A decision has yet been made on the fate of Fight Club OC at The Hangar.

Englebrecht was impressed with the professional nature of Alliance MMA which was one of the reasons he decided to sell his promotion.  Alliance MMA first approached Englebrecht at one of his events in December 2016 and then met CEO Paul Danner at another one of his events in 2017.  The two sides exchanged information and after review of documents by the necessary people a deal was made.  The fact that Alliance MMA included Haydak, a former promoter, it made Englebrecht more at ease since they spoke the same language.

“Certainly, their due diligence which made me very comfortable,” said Englebrecht.  Haydak emphasized that Alliance MMA is being meticulous about its mergers and acquisitions.  “Its a very tedious and long process,” explained Haydak of what the company does in looking into acquiring a promotion.  “There is back and forth regarding financial and operations review.”  Out of 60 companies it has reviewed, Englebrecht’s promotion was just the 11th promotion Alliance MMA has purchased.  “It’s just not just jumping on any opportunity,” said Haydak.

The acquisition according to Haydak was based on Roy’s reputation as a promoter and Alliance MMA’s desire to make inroads into Southern California.  “We identified California as a market to get into.”  Alliance MMA also is working with longtime Alliance MMA Gym’s Eric del Fierro to promote fights in the region as well.  However, Alliance MMA does not see any conflict with the two regional promotions in the Southland.  “We’re not concerned about that all.  We’re working on the same purpose,” explained Haydak.

Englebrecht enjoyed his time as an independent promoter but voiced the challenges of being out in the “wilderness.”  “I’m a fan of regional promotions.  In saying that, you still have to do a whole lot.  It’s not like you’re a Golden Boy, UFC or Bellator.”

Parties request further clarification over discovery in UFC Antitrust case

June 21, 2017

After a June 1, 2017 conference with the Judge Peggy Leen to discuss outstanding discovery issues, the attorneys for the fighters and the UFC are at it again over what was said at the hearing.

On June 20th, Plaintiffs’ attorneys sent a letter to the Court requesting clarification on “a number of issues arising out of the Court’s order.”  The Plaintiffs sought clarification from the following:

  1. “Do Third Parties that produced documents before or just after the hearing count against the 5 document subpoenas allowed to Plaintiffs?” Plaintiffs have informed the UFC that they were intending to pursue documents from Golden Boy Promotions, Haymon, DiBella Entertainment, Inc., Top Rank, Inc. and Gary Shaw.  Plaintiffs had served documents subpoenas on 17  third parties.  The reason for the clarification is because they were to receive documents from Leon Margueles and Jakks Pacific prior to the hearing.The UFC claims that the two count as part of the maximum 5 issued by the Court.  Obviously, the Plaintiffs contend that they do not.  The UFC notes in its memo to the Court that Plaintiffs did not bring up this production to the Court.
  1. “Has the Court Authorized Plaintiffs to Depose Matt Hume?” Hume is a part of OneFC as Vice President of Operations and Competiton for the company.  According to Plaintiffs, counsel for OneFC will not accept a subpoena and since the company is headquartered in Singapore, lack jurisdiction.  The UFC did not oppose this request and takes no position.  It should be noted that both Plaintiffs and the UFC have agreed to document production from OneFC which was not counted against the 5 allowed by the Court.
  2. “Can Plaintiffs Pursue Discovery from Mercer?” The fighter pay study commissioned by the UFC’s attorneys to be done by Mercer is at issue here. Plaintiffs would like to “resume the discovery initiated in mid-2016.”  The UFC wants this counted as a third-party request.  It notes that some of the documents requested by Plaintiffs were designated as work product by the UFC in spite of the previous court ruling requiring certain documents produced by Mercer to be produced.  In addition, it is requesting clarification regarding a deposition of Mercer.  The UFC had offered to stipulate to the authenticity of documents produced by Mercer in lieu of a CR 30(b)(6) deposition.  But, according to the UFC, Plaintiffs never responded.

Payout Perspective:

The parties were ordered to meet and confer over outstanding discovery issues after the court conference but there is still conflict between the parties.  Laid out by the parties, it’s clear there might be a legitimate gripe.  It usually not a good look to be seeking clarification just after a hearing to go over discovery issues again especially when the overarching theme of the process is for the parties to cooperate.  These types of outstanding issues (i.e., what counts as 5 third-parties, etc.) must be discussed by the parties in Court in front of the judge.  There are some issues that you might not be able to think of while standing in court, but that’s why there are usually more than one (likely three or four) attorneys at the hearing so they can pass along notes to lead counsel to come up with questions to clarify.  Likely, Judge Leen will hold a teleconference but will none too pleased that the parties are coming back.

Plaintiffs Memo Re Discovery by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Defendants Memo Re Discovery by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Nate Diaz, Leslie Smith sued by former agency

June 21, 2017

TMZ Sports first reported that Nate Diaz and Leslie Smith are being sued by their former management group for nonpayment of commissions and conspiring with an attorney to break management agreements.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants owe them more than $1 million in damages and that they were never paid for their work on the UFC 202 fight with Conor McGregor.

Sam Awad is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.  Awad represented Diaz this past April at a NSAC Commission hearing which reduced his fine and suspension from his UFC 202 press conference.

The lawsuit, obtained by TMZ and MMA Junkie note that Ballengee signed Diaz as a client in the summer of 2014 on recommendation from his brother Nick who was an existing client.  The lawsuit alleges that Diaz would pay based upon the same terms as Nick’s contract with the company.

If the Ballengee Group name sounds familiar, Jeff Borris is a member, he is the individual heading up the Professional Fighters Association.  Smith had a falling out with Borris after initial support for the organization.

The Ballengee Group was launched in 2014 by oil company entrepreneur James Ballangee.  He hired baseball agents and attorneys away from CSE, Perennial Sports & Entertainment and MVP Sports Group.

Payout Perspective:

This will be an interesting lawsuit to follow as we may see the inner-workings of the commission structure for Diaz and maybe Smith.  It always amazes me that a lot of the fighter-agent relationships are dependent on the fighter paying the agent after-the-fact instead of the payment going into some sort of trust account from which the agent can take its payment and leave the rest to the fighter.  The inclusion of Awad likely means that the fighters will defer to him as the reasons for nonpayment.

Update on Hunt lawsuit: parties stipulate to extend time for filing of response to First Amended Complaint

June 19, 2017

The parties in the Mark Hunt v. UFC/White/Lesnar case have stipulated to allow the defendants an extension to file a responsive pleading to Hunt’s First Amended Complaint.

Hunt filed the First Amended Complaint on June 1, 2017.  According to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a party has 20 days from the filing of the complaint to respond.  The stipulation extends the response date to June 26, 2017.

Stipulation and Order Extending Time to Answer First Amended Complaint by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

This is not huge news but gives defendants and extra weekend to file an Answer, Counterclaims or another Motion to Dismiss.  Since it gives defendants an extra weekend to prepare a response, I would suppose a Motion to Dismiss might be filed once again, or at least a motion to dismiss the RICO claims.  We will see.

Court issues Order on UFC Subpoena to Bellator

June 15, 2017

The Court in the UFC Antitrust case has issued its order with respect to the June 1, 2017 hearing.

Plaintiffs and Defendants submitted Proposed Orders but the Court decided to draft its own version.  Officially, the Court denied Bellator’s Motion to Quash the UFC Subpoena and the UFC’s Motion to Compel Documents but granted Bellator’s Motion to Modify the Subpoenas.

The Court ordered that Bellator will have until July 5, 2017 to produce the documents identified in the order and “all documents responsive to the subpoenas served by both parties on which agreements were reached during the meet and confer process.”

Notably, the Court requires that Bellator produce the following documents:

  1. A random sample of at least 20 percent of fighters under contract with Bellator between January 1, 2010 and the present. This will include any “amendments, modifications, side letters, or extensions that may exist with respect to any contract that is produced…”
  2. Bellator will produced “Anonymized contracts” with a unique identifier although identifying information “may be redacted.”
  3. The contracts “shall include the fighter’s gender, weight class, number of fights during term of agreements and any compensation to be paid.
  4. The Court limited and modified Bellator’s request for production to the following
    1. A list of all MMA events it promoted or co-promoted from January 1, 2010 through the present.
    2. An unaudited profit and loss statement through the quarter ending March 31, 2017 which will include Revenue, Expenses, Operating Income and Net Income.

Order on Motion to Quash and Motion to Compel 06.13.17 by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

Payout Perspective:

Despite the Court clarifying the order, expect the parties and Bellator to squabble over the turning over of the documents.  For Bellator, the production of documents is bad, but it could have been worse.  Still, this is an additional expense for the company as it will need to look at all of the documents, determine responsiveness and redact identifiable information and then produce them.  The unaudited profit and loss statement through March 31, 2017 seems to be the hardest business item the company must give up since the UFC and Plaintiffs’ attorneys will have a chance to see their raw data.

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